Recruit Smarter

Recruit Smarter is a multi-sector initiative of the Victorian Government and Melbourne University to develop inclusive recruitment practices and address unconscious bias in recruitment.

Internationally, Recruit Smarter is the first initiative of its kind, contributing findings to a growing body of research demonstrating the benefits of inclusive workplaces.

46 organisations across the public, private, non-government, and research sectors contributed to Recruit Smarter and its findings.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Australia’s population is growing and becoming more diverse, with people from all cultures, abilities and walks of life calling Australia home and contributing to our identity and way of life.

As Australia continues to grow, it is important that we ensure that our diversity is reflected in our workforce. However, job seekers from diverse backgrounds often face barriers when seeking employment. This leads to issues such as underemployment and unemployment, which can have adverse flow on effects for our economic productivity and our community wellbeing.

A key barrier to employment faced by diverse jobseekers is the impact of unconscious bias, which refers to judgements and assessments formed outside of our conscious awareness. Unconscious bias is based on our beliefs, past experiences and our cultural context and can influence the decisions we make in our work, including decisions around who we choose to hire.

Recognising these issues, Recruit Smarter was initiated by the Victorian Government Department of Premier and Cabinet in partnership with Melbourne University as a multi-sector research initiative to develop inclusive recruitment practices and address unconscious bias in hiring.

Recruit Smarter was implemented over two years around three strategic priorities and objectives:
• Real world trials: trialling new approaches to inclusive recruitment through real-world workplace trials and interventions of measures such as CV de-identification and blind recruitment, targeted language in job advertising, and unconscious bias training.
• Synthesise the latest research with on the ground experience to develop best practice for inclusive recruitment: specialist researchers and human resources professionals from 22 cross-sector organisations collaborated over 12 months to review and analyse the latest research on human resources practices and combine it with their own on-the-ground expertise to develop practical, best practice guidelines for inclusive recruitment.
• Sharing knowledge and learnings about what has and has not worked across sectors and in workplaces: participating organisations shared knowledge and learnings about inclusive recruitment practices and measures they had implemented in their organisations and sectors through free, ‘TED’ style public forums and lectures. Knowledge Sharing Seminar audiences were privy to exclusive research and insights on diversity in the workplace and inclusive recruitment from leading researchers and some of Australia’s most prominent firms and non-government organisations. Topics ranged from targeted recruitment for people with disabilities, to gamification in recruitment; implementation of all roles flex; and a review of recent trends in employment discrimination law.

In total, 46 organisations participated in, and contributed to the delivery and findings of the Recruit Smarter initiative, representing a broad range of sectors including legal services; banking and finance; human resources and recruitment; professional and consulting services; energy; not-for-profit, community, and peak body; and government.

Recruit Smarter was successful across all strategic objectives:
• Evaluations of new recruitment approaches showed positive outcomes, with CV de-identification demonstrating improved shortlisting and hiring prospects for women in male-dominated roles, overseas-born job applicants, and applicants residing in lower socioeconomic areas.
• Additionally, targeted advertising improved recruitment and employment outcomes for applicants from priority groups, while unconscious bias training increased self-efficacy and intentions for diversity-supportive practices.
• Collaborative engagement between sector and organisational representatives led to the development of best practice guidelines that brought together the latest human resources research with the on-the-ground multi-sector expertise of human resources professionals to support diversity and inclusion in recruitment practices and workplaces.
• Finally, the Knowledge Sharing Seminars attracted nearly 1000 people across 12 months and brought to light the value of diversity and inclusion by showcasing innovative approaches to improving workplace and workforce diversity and inclusion, and by highlighting key issues and barriers faced by jobseekers.

Recruit Smarter delivered its report of findings in October 2018. The Victorian Government has made all findings, including the outcomes of the field trials of recruitment practices, the best practice guidelines, and summaries of the Knowledge Sharing Seminars publicly available as a resource and available for digital download.

The findings are intended to serve as a diversity and inclusion resource for all industries and sectors to inform and support their workplace and recruitment practices. A technical report outlining the trial and research methodologies has also been released for specialists, researchers, and human resources practitioners.

Innovation Description

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Year: 2019
Level of government: Regional/State government


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